A Chinese student living in Canada has lost an appeal to strike his guilty plea on a drunk driving charge in an effort to stave off deportation.
Dai Ru pleaded guilty on Oct. 16, 2017, part way through his trial, after his lawyer told him that the evidence of the Crown was enough to convict him on the charge. The lawyer said that pleading guilty at that point could reduce the fine amount.
In December of that year, he was given a deportation order because of his conviction.
Ru said in his appeal last fall that he didn’t know deportation was a possibility, and that he received wrong advice from his lawyer that the conviction could not lead to deportation. He asked for a new trial, and said he would have let the matter go to the judge for decision if he had known he faced being sent back to China.
In a written Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision released Tuesday, Justice Timothy Gabriel found that the trial lawyer had broached the topic of possible deportation and suggested at an appointment some time ahead of the trial that Ru contact an immigration lawyer. It was also brought up in discussions on pleading guilty after the Crown evidence.
He also ruled that Ru’s change of plea was not uninformed.
“But even if I had come to a different conclusion on that point, I have not been satisfied under these circumstances that the appellant has established a real possibility that had he been aware that he would definitely be subject to deportation ... that he would have pursued a different course of action,” Gabriel wrote.
Gabriel didn’t accept Ru’s testimony that he hadn’t received a letter reiterating points brought up to him in a meeting with his lawyer four months before the trial, which recommended that he contact an immigration lawyer.
He also said that there was an “infinitesimally low” possibility that the trial judge would have come back with a not guilty verdict if the trial had continued, based on the Crown evidence and the fact that there was “absolutely no” defence evidence to be called under the circumstances.
“Mr. Ru made the best of a very bad situation when he changed his plea after most of the Crown evidence was called, and obtained some possible mitigation of the fine imposed as a result,” Gabriel wrote.